ALAN Pardew admits Wayne Rooney is a “problem” for Newcastle United.
The striker has been passed fit to spearhead Manchester United’s attack as they look to inflict a second successive defeat on Pardew’s side – and will be tilting to add another chapter to a tale of woe for Newcastle against the England forward they once tried to sign.
Rooney has an impressive ten career goals against Newcastle – a total that no active Premier League striker can match.
But Pardew doesn’t feel that record is anything to dwell on, because most teams in the top flight have suffered at the hands of English football’s only truly world-class talent. The United boss said: “He is a thorn in the side of most teams. A midfield role does not diminish him.
“Manchester United have maybe tried to adapt a bit after what happened in the Champions League final and he is a big part of their change in terms of having a bit more movement and making it more problematic to pin him down, because you don’t know where he is going to go.
“He is popping up everywhere at the moment. He is a fantastic talent and England are very lucky to have him. I’m sure Alex feels that too for Man U. For us, he is a problem and we have to make sure we deal with him, whatever area of the pitch he is on.”
Pardew has spoken of the confidence and belief of his team and will field a side to try and test Manchester United’s resolve this afternoon.
But don’t take that assurance as a sign of arrogance or a dismissal of the “very strong” champions.
“I think Man U as usual are getting better after every game and the second part of the season is when they really come into their own, so to play them now is probably a slight advantage,” he said.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been very complimentary about Pardew and his work at St James’ Park in the run-up to today’s game and the Magpies boss is grateful for the advice and help he has supplied.
“Of course there are occasions when we all talk to each other but because he’s been a massive part of LMA and his influence on it shouldn’t be underestimated,” Pardew said.
“All managers have down times – even Sir Alex has a down in losing a Champions League final. At times like those you turn to people and ask for advice and reassess what you’ve done and what you haven’t done, and he’s one of the people I turn to.”